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The world premiere recording of Salonen's new cello concerto is a magical work / Planet Hugill

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Esa-Pekka Salonen's Cello Concerto is a substantial work, in three movements it runs to around 35 minutes on this new recording from Sony Classical with Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with soloist Yo-Yo Ma. A co-commission by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Barbican Centre and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, it was Salonen's third large scale concerto and premiered in 2017 with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Though the material for the piece was mainly developed by the composer in 2015, some of the ideas date back 30 years and some phrases come from a 2010 work for solo cello, knock, breathe, shine. In his introductory essay in the CD booklet Esa-Pekka Salonen talks about a concerto being an orchestral work where one or more instruments play a pivotal role. Whilst the concept does not, to Salonen, suggest any particular formal design. He does like the idea of a soloist operating at the limits of what is physically and mentally possible.

The writing for solo cello is positively vertiginous, and Yo-Yo Ma is stunning, brilliantly and subtly accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the composer. For all the taxing cello part and huge orchestra (including triple woodwind, and three percussionists), this work comes over as a wonderfully subtle, thoughtful and rather magical work.